When I was a kid we had a guava tree in our backyard. The fruit was the most common variety at the time – reddish, small, but very sweet. It was perfect for making Dulce de Guayaba (Guava Jam). Unfortunately it is not the type of guava that lends itself to mass production and sale, as it has to be picked ripe and spoils very fast. It’s been decades since I last saw one of those.
Our guava tree wasn’t the only one in our backyard. My mom, frugal and practical like most Dominican moms, complemented our diet with fruits and vegetables that she grew in our backyard. This was actually the norm then, when most Dominicans, even in the cities, lived in houses with backyards.
In our backyards, as in many other Dominican homes, we grew plantains, auyama (West Indian pumpkin), papaya, guava, legumes, spanish lime (limoncillo), bitter oranges, limes, and a variety of herbs. Things have changed since
A significant percentage of Dominicans now live in cities, busy as they are, space is at a premium and most people now live in apartments. The tradition of growing fruits and vegetables at home is now a thing of the past for most urban dwellers.
Anyway, let me share this dessert that I posted in our Spanish blog several weeks ago. Pasta de guayaba (guava paste candy) is very simple to make, requires few ingredients and is very popular in our country. If you can find guavas where you live, try it – you’ll love it.
There are several varieties of guava; each will make this dish slightly different, but in the end it doesn’t matter, the result will be just as good.
There are three ways of serving Dulce de Guayaba (Guava Jam): you can make it thick and let it harden, then cut it into cubes to be served as candies. And you can also use it as filling for the Dominican Cake, or this Ricotta and Guava Tart, or dilute with a bit of water to serve as sauce with the Auyama Flan.
Whatever you do with it, it will make your desserts amazing and unforgettable.
- 8 ripe guavas
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 quart [1lt] of water (more if necessary)
- 1 cup of brown sugar
Wash and peel the guavas. Cut into halves and scoop out the seeds.
In a thick-bottomed pot boil the seeds and the cinnamon sticks in 1 quart [1lt] of water over low heat until the seeds separate and the water is dark. Add more water if it becomes necessary to maintain the same level.
Strain the liquid and eliminate the seeds and cinnamon. Return this liquid to the pot, along with the sugar and guava halves.
Boil until the guava becomes very soft, and the liquid has reduced to about one cup. Cool to room temperature.
Blend the guava and the liquid left from boiling. Return to the pot, cook over medium heat stirring the pot so it doesn't stick to the bottom or burn. Be careful with splatters!
To make sauce, stop it when it has thickened enough to drizzle. To make it into spreadable jam, stop when it has thickened to the consistency of yoghurt. To make into candy cubes, wait until the paste starts lifting from the bottom, and pour it into an oiled small square mold and let it cool to room temperature. Cut into cubes.
What to do if it is too soft: Reheat again and cook stirring until it lifts from the bottom of the pot.
What do do if it is too hard: Reheat again and stir in a tablespoon of water (or two) depending on the consistency you want (spreadable for cakes, more liquid as a sauce).